Online learning has been around for more than 20 years, with 900 percent market growth during the last 10 years. Statistics show a continued annual growth rate of 15 percent between 2021-2026, with a likely higher rate possible due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the digital space. Corporate companies are the biggest consumer of online learning. They have been using it as an onboarding and continuing education tool, as well as a means to increase productivity and revenues. They also have noted that millennials value companies that invest in their career development, which helps reduce turnover.
Statistics and research show investing in education is vital to a company’s growth and success. At NWFA, we have seen similar results. Since 2016, we have reached more than 10,000 individuals through NWFA University (NWFAU), with 75 percent of them being new to NWFA’s education, meaning they previously have not attended an in-person school or trade show event. As a manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or contractor, there are many ways NWFA can facilitate your company’s adoption of online learning. Let’s explore a few examples already in use.
The first is simply using NWFAU as a tool to educate your staff. This can be done by purchasing the NWFAU All-Access Pass, signing up your entire team, and then building their completions into your onboarding and/or raise structure. We have seen countless companies incentivize course completions by tying it to a bonus, promotion, or an all-expenses-paid trip to Expo.
While some NWFA members simply have used NWFAU as an onboarding tool for new hires, some have taken that a step further. Here are two different examples of companies that have partnered with NWFA to deliver custom content to their staff and customers.
Intermountain Wood Flooring is a distributor with more than a dozen locations in the Northwestern part of the U.S. Their partnership with NWFA dates back to 2017 and remains current today. Intermountain licenses the NWFA Sales Learning Paths and houses them on their own learning management system. They use those courses as a tool for all inside and outside sales staff and use it as a path to earn the NWFA Sales Advisor Certification along with their own internal courses related to business practices, human resources, products, and more. Earning Sales Advisor Certification adds a level of professionalism that they feel gives them an edge.
“Our original goal for offering online education was to make our training scalable,” says Kalon Partridge, HR director of Intermountain Wood Flooring. “With 14 locations, it was difficult to get quality and timely education to all of our new hires. Partnering with NWFA has given us credibility as an employer and distributor. Investing in our employees helps us service our customers better, which in turn impacts our ROI.”
Another company using NWFAU to create custom content is Woodpecker Trading Company, a manufacturer with headquarters in England and an office in the U.S. Their education goals and objectives are to provide their retail partners with the knowledge to assess the needs of clients to properly specify product and installation methods, which NWFAU content provides.
The NWFA worked with Woodpecker to build a custom-branded webpage, as well as custom-branded courses. All courses were translated to reflect UK standards and terminology specific to their country/area, as well as a branding facelift to match their logos, colors, product images, and the like.
Says David Gardner, Woodpecker’s technical quality manager, “It was remarkably simple working with NWFA. Their flexible approach to meeting our needs made for an excellent working arrangement. We certainly achieved our goals, and I believe we all gained some interesting insights into each other’s markets along the way. I would absolutely recommend working with NWFA, although it is important not to underestimate the amount of work that went into the process of producing the custom training courses. But the end result is excellent and well-received by our partners.”
Research shows that online consumption of education is not going away anytime soon, and the way we consume education will continue to evolve. So, what are you doing to stay relevant to your customers? How can you use online learning to decrease turnover and increase productivity and revenues? There are many ways to use NWFA as your resource, content developer, and/or learning management system. Let us help you take your education efforts to the next level in 2021 and beyond.
Stephanie Owen is the Vice President of Education for the National Wood Flooring Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.